Catalina Display Launch Dinner

Just 6 months ago I was in LRE for the last QFM AGM with Dee-Anne. Due to a change of financial year reporting for the museum – so they don’t split in half their busiest time of the year (winter) – I was back to hear how they had been and more importantly, to stay on a little longer for the launch of a new display the following night.

Consolidated PBY Catalina "G-AGIE" looking out at the sunset
Consolidated PBY Catalina “G-AGIE” looking out at the sunset

They were still painting right up until the afternoon of the launch dinner, but they did an amazing job getting everything together. To complete the display for future visitors to the museum is not just the paint job, but some seats have been installed inside, with subs positioned along the skin of the aircraft to give the sound and feel of being inside a working Catalina. It’s really a very cool experience.

Aircraft Name "Antares Star"
Aircraft Name “Antares Star”
Aircraft Tail "4"
Aircraft Tail “4”
Aircraft registration "G-AGIE"
Aircraft registration “G-AGIE”

A slightly larger collection of photos was posted to Flickr.

Headed Home

I think we all had a good sleep last night, in slightly comfort beds, separate rooms with a fan and despite the aircon not being overly powerful, liveable temperatures. It certainly wasn’t freezing this morning, but it was baking outside.

Last night I’d tried to take photos of the skies above, littered with stars, but even with a 15-second exposure on a point and shoot camera I simply got a black canvas. I did slightly better with the moon, constantly disappearing behind far off cloud. Unfortunately none of the photos came out to the point I’d want to upload them. Instead, here’s a quiet street this morning.

A street in Longreach

Dad had ventured out early to refill the car and buy some breakfast, so when he got back we had a home cooked bacon and poached eggs, which all up cost less than one portion of bacon and eggs at the Roadhouse across the street.

Following breakfast mum dropped us off at the Qantas Founders Museum, before heading into town I believe to look at art galleries. Sze Sze, dad and I took in the museum very quickly before heading out on the tour of the 747-200 Classic, VH-EBQ. Admittedly I don’t think they had the full experience in the museum, being in such a rush, but I’d been before and had spent two days absorbing it so there wasn’t much new for me inside.

Outside however was a different story, with the museum recently taking delivery of a Catalina, parked where the DC-3 was last year. The DC-3 was also therefore open to be looked inside, so I had some new experiences. Personally I’d like to see a Short C Class flying boat, but with only 42 built I doubt there’s any left, plus how would they land it at Longreach?

I think Sze Sze and dad enjoyed the tour of VH-EBQ, especially as it was a lot more hands-on and listening to facts and figures than reading. It was more interactive I should say. Having done a more in-depth tour last year I pretty much knew it all already and was helping to point out things to Sze Sze and dad.

Dad in a 747 engine cowling Sam and Sze Sze in a 747 engine cowling Qantas Empire Airways DC-3

Thankfully the tour finished reasonably close to on time and we made our way back to the museum and McGinness’s Cafe to meet mum. She’d already checked-in the bag and was having a cup of tea, enjoyable on an already hot day, and still heating up. Likewise was the aircon.

Soon we were in the air and bidding farewell to Longreach and the outback. It’s been an enjoyable holiday, something different, but perhaps best done when towns haven’t closed down for summer.

The flight landed in Brisbane on time and we were quickly out and on our way down the motorway home. One more sleep at home for the year.

Back in Longreach

This morning I didn’t feel anywhere near as cold as yesterday, as the aircon had been turned down (or up) a bit before bed. That said, I wish I could have been cooler when I got up to the first activity for the day: golf!

Kim kindly leant us his clubs last night, but he turned up anyway at 7:30 for 9 holes of golf at the Winton Golf Course. How do I describe it? I think the photos will sum it up, but it was mostly dirt, some weeds and one hole had about 20m of what could be the bare minimum of grass for a fairway. The greens were also interesting, and they weren’t green, but rather a black oily sand. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast.

The Fairway

I didn’t think I’d finish the round when only halfway through I was sweating profusely, the flies were all over me and I wasn’t scoring under 10! However a 9 on a par 3 helped me persevere. Dad managed a few pars! Kim probably did a little better than me, with his local knowledge… though he didn’t know one water hazard actually contained water, advising it was dry.

Following golf a beer was proffered, and accepted, before I phoned in my probation and then refreshed myself wonderfully in the pool at the motel. The cool water felt so good.

Packing up we were soon checked-out and eating a late breakfast in the Twilight Cafe again. Delicious country fattening food. Dad fueled the car, bought some ice, and I posted some cards, and then we were off again, back to Longreach.

The drive was as uneventful as last time, though the clouds were different. On the way to Winton we were on the edge of a high cloud front, but today the skies were littered with cumulus clouds, and it felt a lot hotter.

We once again checked into our accommodation, this time the Discovery Holiday Parks, where I’ve stayed before on my own. This time we booked a family unit though and it was more than adequate with new appliances and comfy beds.

We visited the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, well the reception and gift shop area at least, as after some enquiries we discovered that the contents were essentially the same as what we’d experienced in the Waltzing Matilda museum in Winton. Admittedly, it’s a much bigger museum, but when you know it all pretty much already, there’s little point in doing it all again.

The town seemed a bit more open than Winton, but after dark it shut down again.

We had dinner at Eagles Nest, and had a good laugh at the Billiards Room, a must visit if you done here. The food was great and the beverage list very large. I ended up having a Tui, what I’d usually only have in Queenstown. Tasted different out of a bottle than on tap though.

Tomorrow we’re heading back home!

A Tuesday in Winton

The aircon in our room made the blankets on the bed necessary, and it was an interesting contrast freezing in the boom and baking outside. Having all had an early night I was surprised we weren’t up until 8:30, though the rest felt good.

We had decided not to stay for breakfast, despite Barcaldine being a very nice town all round. Everything packed up again, we were off on our way to Longreach, where we stopped for breakfast in the Qantas Founders Museum, considering everything else in town was either shut or not serving food till midday.

Qantas Founders Museum Qantas Founders Museum

Continuing on, and with mum electing to drive the whole way, we finally made it to Winton in the early afternoon, a two hour drive from Longreach. We checked into some adequate rooms at the Boulder Opal Motel, promptly turning on the aircon. The temperature in the shade reached 38°C.

A slow walk around town gave us the impression everything was shut, but then it is Christmas and everyone seems to bugger off from these parts around now. Luckily we managed a feed in the Twilight Cafe, but we’re told they’d be shut before dinner. Everything else was also shutting before dinner, leaving us nowhere to eat! Again luckily, we found an open supermarket and got some things for dinner: chicken, tomatoes, bread and drinks.

I met up with Kim, having sent him some messages on Sze Sze’s mobile, as flOptus doesn’t believe in outback reception, but Telstra does.

I found free public wifi in town though, and our motel offers it around the reception and pool areas, so I sat by the pool in the shade of a fern tree… and sweated while being mobbed by flies. The wind slowly picked up in the late afternoon, helping to cool me down. And the pool finished the job.

A refreshing dip in the pool